We have been busy with language courses and we continue to meet as a House Church, 2 young believers have joined us. One of them moved here after experiencing persecution and danger back home. Before moving here, he chose to follow Jesus. He led the other guy who comes with him to church to Jesus and so they come as a pair!
We’ve met some couples who’ve been on the field here for well over a decade—discipling new believers and they estimate that there are 20 believers in this city. Half of that group do not attend church regularly or are on the fence, so it’s easy to imagine that maybe there are 10 or 15 believers actively attending church. These 2 guys do represent a good portion of the Church here in our city.
We’re super honoured to have a role in their lives and they are passionate faith-filled young men. They are walking in serious faith and they’ve faced the cost of their decision to follow Jesus. There is a lot of leadership on them, and as they grow in their Bible knowledge, we know that we can pass these gatherings to them and they will be disciple-makers. We’re excited to have them as part of our group.
(See further updates below about these 2 guys)
English club had a wrap-up party with several students where we were able to share the Christmas story—many heard it for the first time. One student, who had coffee with another member of our team asked if they could read the Bible together. Please pray that his heart would be hungry to hear about Jesus and that there would be more opportunities to share.
We’ve been praying together as a team, and this city feels spiritually heavy. There are 10 churches in our neighbourhood—out of use and locked. The one church that is used has been converted into a mosque. These abandoned churches are a visual reminder of the Christian history of this island. In the lifetime of my grandparents (or less) this island has lost its rich Christian heritage.
We had a chance to go to the other side of the island, and we could hear the church bells ringing as we crossed the border, in direct contrast to the call to prayer on our side of the island. Our devotions have been a reminder of abiding in Him and trusting His promise. We lean into those prayer times.
We travelled to see some believers baptized and to attend one of the church services there that some workers are running in that city. On our way, we stopped at a monastery that holds the name of a prominent Biblical figure—it’s so interesting to have Biblical history in this place and feel like it could happen again!
UPDATE: Please note that we’ve given these 2 guys false names for their privacy.
Mehmet has returned home after receiving sudden and unexpected news that his father is having a medical procedure. He has gone back to find work to support his family during his dad’s extended recovery. Mehmet has an incredible testimony of being rescued from Satanism, and he is a strong evangelist who is very forward about his faith, so we trust that he will be a force for the Kingdom of God in his city. His family knows about his faith and is warming up to Jesus through him. Please join us in praying for the recovery of Mehmet’s dad, for the salvation of his family, and that Jesus would guard the deposit of faith that he has placed in Mehmet as he transitions to life in a city where there is significantly less Christian community.
Batuhan was led to Christ through Mehmet after they met at university. The two are best friends/roommates and it is evident that Batuhan’s faith leans heavily on Mehmet. Therefore, Mehmet’s departure puts Batuhan’s faith in a vulnerable place. Unlike Mehmet, Batuhan has avoided telling his family about his faith for fear of their reaction. His fear is probably justified—we’ve heard that as many as 75% of Jesus believers return to Islam due to pressure from their family and society—and Batuhan could face intense backlash, rejection, or even disownment if (or when) his family finds out. As we see it, this turn of events means a couple of things:
- Our role in Batuhan’s life is magnified as we now represent the total share of the Christian community in his life. This is huge since the presence or absence of a believing community is usually the factor that determines whether new believers endure in their faith. Still, pray for spiritual discernment for us as we seek to lead Batuhan away from reliance on us or a Church structure and towards generating a Christian community among his own people since we know our placement in his life is only temporary. Pray as well for courage for Batuhan to share with his family and grace for them to receive him.
- Though the risk of attrition also increases, Mehmet’s absence actually creates an excellent opportunity for Batuhan to take ownership of his faith, as he has relied on Mehmet for spiritual leadership up until this point. Pray that God would guard Batuhan’s faith during this vulnerable season. Pray that the roots of Batuhan’s faith would grow deep, that he would develop a personal practice of reading the word and prayer, and that the spiritual gifts and leadership that God has placed in him would mature in this new season of his life.
- We’re in full swing of language learning
- We have a house church meeting on Sundays with our team and two young believers.
- We have finished our English Club for the season, and will likely start it back up in the spring
- There’s a guy we met through English Club who is curious about Jesus and hearing the gospel
- We were able to read the Christmas story at English Club with some people who had never heard it before.
- Please be praying for the people of this island, that they would encounter Jesus and turn their hearts to Him
- Pray for the believers who attend our house church, that they would have the boldness and grace to share the gospel with their peers and that they’d see the power of the Holy Spirit in their own lives.
- Pray for our friend who’s curious about the gospel, that he would encounter the love of Jesus and believe in Him.
We’re so blessed by you all. Thank you for your prayers and support!